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Women in Bhutan
Woman in Bhutan, 2011.jpg
Woman in Bhutan, 2011
Gender Inequality Index
Value 0.464 (2012)
Rank 92nd
Maternal mortality (per 100,000) 180 (2010)
Women in parliament 13.9% (2012)
Females over 25 with secondary education 34.0% (2010)
Women in labour force 65.8% (2011)
Global Gender Gap Index[1]
Value 0.6651 (2013)
Rank 93rd out of 136

Although officially the government of Bhutan has encouraged greater participation by the women in Bhutan in political and administrative life, male members of the traditional aristocracy dominate the social system. Economic development has increased opportunities for women to participate in fields such as medicine, both as physicians and nurses; teaching; and administration. By 1989 nearly 10 percent of government employees were women, and the top civil service examination graduate in 1989 was a woman. During their government careers, women civil servants were allowed three months maternity leave with full pay for three deliveries and leave without pay for any additional deliveries. Reflecting the dominance of males in society, girls were outnumbered three to two in primary and secondary-level schools. However, with so many pro-women organizations on the rise including CSO, MBO etc. women have been seen to be contributing towards livelihoods of individual families, for instance SABAH-Bhutan (www.sabahbt.org) tries to empower women in earning through weaving, tailoring food processing and other economic activities, thereby making women participate in earning for the family(s).

Political participation[edit]

Between 2008 and 2011, recruitment and retention of Tshogpas, or local government council members, remained a serious issue. Obstacles range from lack of interest and lack of economic incentives to difficulty in compliance and obtaining accreditation under existing election laws. The functional literacy and skills test alone left many constituencies without the minimum of two candidates, leading to lengthy delay of the local government elections of 2011, originally slated for 2008. The first round of the functional literacy and skills test left many Gewogs with no representatives, though second round results showed a pass rate over 90%. Although women elected to office remained relatively few (14% before local elections according to the UNHCR), more than half of voters in initial local government elections were women. In initial local-level voting in 2011, voter turnout was about 50%.[2][3][4][5][6] This has raised the question of whether women would benefit from quotas in public service, highlighting the need to encourage further female electoral and political participation.[7]

History[edit]

Women in the 1980s played a significant role in the agricultural work force, where they outnumbered men, who were leaving for the service sector and other urban industrial and commercial activities. In the mid-1980s, 95 percent of all Bhutanese women from the ages of fifteen to sixty-four years were involved in agricultural work, compared with only 78 percent of men in the same age range. Foreign observers have noted that women shared equally with men in farm labor. Overall, women were providing more labor than men in all sectors of the economy. Less than 4 percent of the total female work force was unemployed, compared with nearly 10 percent of men who had no occupation.[8]

The government founded the National Women's Association of Bhutan in 1981 primarily to improve the socioeconomic status of women, particularly those in rural areas. The association, at its inaugural session, declared that it would not push for equal rights for women because the women of Bhutan had already come to "enjoy equal status with men politically, economically, and socially." To give prominence to the association, the Druk Gyalpo's sister, Ashi Sonam Chhoden Wangchuck, was appointed its president. Starting in 1985, the association became a line item in the government budget and was funded at Nu2.4 million in fiscal year 1992. The association has organized annual beauty contests featuring traditional arts and culture, fostered training in health and hygiene, distributed yarn and vegetable seeds, and introduced smokeless stoves in villages.[8]

Traditional marriage and family life[edit]

The traditional practice, arranged marriages based on family and ethnic ties, had been replaced in the late twentieth century with marriages based on mutual affection. Marriages were usually arranged by the partners in contemporary Bhutan, and the minimum age was sixteen for women and twenty-one for men. The institution of child marriage, once relatively widespread, largely declined as Bhutan modernized, and there were only remnants of the practice in the late twentieth century. Interethnic marriages, once forbidden, were encouraged in the late 1980s by an incentive of a Nu10,000 government stipend to willing couples. The stipend was discontinued in 1991, however. Marriages of Bhutanese citizens to foreigners, however, have been discouraged. Bhutanese with foreign spouses were not allowed to obtain civil service positions and could have their government scholarships cancelled and be required to repay portions already received. Foreign spouses were not entitled to citizenship by right but had to apply for naturalization.[9]

Polyandry is rare and can still be found for instance among the Brokpas of Merak-Sakten.[10] A woman married by custom to several husbands will, however, be granted only one marriage certificate according to law. [11] Polygamy was restricted in the mid-twentieth century. Through the 1990s, however, the law still allowed a man as many as three wives, providing he had the first wife's permission. The first wife also had the power to sue for divorce and alimony if she did not agree. In the 1980s, divorce was common, and newer laws provided better benefits to women seeking alimony.[9]

Family life, both traditionally and through the end of the 20th century, was likely to provide for a fair amount of self-sufficiency. Families, for example, often made their own clothing, bedding, floor and seat covers, tablecloths, and decorative items for daily and religious use. Wool was the primary material, but domestic silk and imported cotton were also used in weaving colorful cloth, often featuring elaborate geometric, floral, and animal designs. Although weaving was normally done by women of all ages using family-owned looms, monks sometimes did embroidery and appliqué work. In the twentieth century, weaving was possibly as predominant a feature of daily life as it was at the time of Bhutan's unification in the seventeenth century.[9]

Landholdings varied depending on the wealth and size of individual families, but most families had as much land as they could farm using traditional techniques. A key element of family life was the availability of labor. Thus, the choice of the home of newlyweds was determined by which parental unit had the greatest need of supplemental labor. If both families had a sufficient supply of labor, then a bride and groom might elect to set up their own home.<[9]

See also[edit]

  • Kunzang Choden, Bhutanese author who focuses on the experience of women

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Global Gender Gap Report 2013". World Economic Forum. pp. 12–13. 
  2. ^ "Freedom in the World 2011 - Bhutan". UNHCR Refworld online. Freedom House. 2011-05-12. Retrieved 2011-05-20. 
  3. ^ Tshering, Dechen (2011-04-16). "Tshogpa dearth for real". Kuensel. Retrieved 2011-05-21. 
  4. ^ Namgyal, Gyembo (2011-05-03). "Where have the tshogpas gone?". Bhutan Observer online. Retrieved 2011-05-21. 
  5. ^ Sherpa, Sherpem (2011-01-21). Baerthlein, Thomas, ed. "Bhutan holds first-ever local government elections". Deutsche Welle online. Retrieved 2011-05-20. 
  6. ^ "When the candidates are illiterate". Bhutan Broadcasting Service. 2010-09-28. Retrieved 2011-05-20. 
  7. ^ Pelden, Sonam (2011-08-12). "Should Bhutan Have Leadership Quotas for Women?". Bhutan Observer online. Retrieved 2011-09-08. 
  8. ^ a b Robert L. Worden. "Role of Women". Bhutan: A country study (Andrea Matles Savada, ed.). Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress of the USA (September 1991).  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  9. ^ a b c d Robert L. Worden. "Marriage and Family Life". Bhutan: A country study (Andrea Matles Savada, ed.). Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress of the USA (September 1991).  This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  10. ^ "Feature: All in the Family", Kuensel 27 August 2007; http://www.kuenselonline.com/feature-all-in-the-family/
  11. ^ The Marriage Act of Bhutan 1980, article KHa 1-17; http://landwise.landesa.org/record/733

External links[edit]



Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_Bhutan — Please support Wikipedia.
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21 news items

 
Brookings Institution
Wed, 17 Dec 2014 08:18:45 -0800

Bhutan has made great progress in girls' access to education. However, the quality of girls' learning outcomes (i.e., academic performance or competencies) remains an issue and merits priority as a strategic policy item in the “Bhutan Education ...
 
World Bank Group
Wed, 04 Dec 2013 12:07:33 -0800

Thimpu, December 4, 2013 - A greater voice for women in the management of the land they own and access to an effective secondary and higher education along with skills training will go a long way in addressing gender gap concerns in Bhutan. This is the ...

Livemint

Livemint
Sat, 10 Aug 2013 06:07:01 -0700

Women in Bhutan are simply not seen in leadership roles,” says Wangchhuk. Ironically, 70% of agricultural land is owned by women. The overall sex ratio of 110 males per 100 females is certainly better than that of India. The reason for the paucity of ...
 
Global Voices Online
Fri, 19 Nov 2010 21:13:08 -0800

Women in Bhutan practice Olympic style archery, play basketball, soccer, cricket, billiards (while hanging out at bars) and other games. But traditional sports has, until now, remained restricted to men. When women encroached on it recently, it seemed ...
 
CSRwire.com (press release)
Wed, 05 May 2010 05:05:47 -0700

In an effort to reduce the burden of cervical cancer, which affects more women in Bhutan than any other cancer, girls and young women between the ages of 12 and 18 will be offered vaccination with GARDASIL as part of this initiative. The six-year ...
 
International Business Times
Thu, 17 Nov 2011 00:46:43 -0800

She sported a long-sleeved, short silk jacket, called toego, over an ankle-length hand-woven kira (kind of wrap around long rectangular skirt) bound around the waist. Kira and toego form the national costume for women in Bhutan. Bhutan's fifth Dragon ...
 
TrustLaw (blog)
Fri, 19 Oct 2012 11:05:12 -0700

THIMPHU (TrustLaw) - To find the Tashi Tagay dance club in downtown Thimphu, stand in a dusty parking lot and follow the strains of synthesizer, electronic drums and 15-stringed Bhutanese guitar wafting through the night air. The bouncer at the ...
 
Student Pulse
Mon, 16 May 2011 05:06:30 -0700

According to the dataset, women in Bhutan are living an economic life relatively equal to that of men. The state receiving the lowest score is Iran with a score of 0. This means that Iran has no laws built into place that concern the equality of women ...
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